Some Tips about Hostels
I’d never stayed in a hostel before study abroad, and the thought of staying in one made me a little nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect. After 5 months of traveling around South America, I think I get it now. It’s not necessarily sketchy just because you’re sharing a room with strangers—you might make friends. You might not even end up sharing a room with anyone. The bathrooms, on the other hand, very easily could be sketchy, so brace yourself and put on your adventure boots (or at least some shower slippers.) Keep these handy tips in mind and you’ll do fine.
1. READ THE RATINGS.
Tripadvisor and Hostelworld both offer traveler reviews—use them. Don’t just read the good ones—read the worst reviews to get an idea of what you might have to expect. And don’t necessarily trust a place if it has one good review, and only one review. The more ratings, the more accurate the overall rating will be.
2. If you can, bring a towel. Most places will let you rent a towel, but to save yourself a bit of cash and the weirdness of using a towel that lots of other people have used, make room for one of your own. (Bonus tip: if you’re taking a bus to the city in which your hostel is located, that towel can be used as an emergency pillow!)
3. Cook at the hostel, save yourself a fortune. I ate out a lot when I was in Valparaiso just because, hello, seafood, but it really is so much cheaper (and fun!) to cook at the hostel. That said, be aware you won’t necessarily have all the supplies you’d like to have. Simple things like salad, pizza, pasta, and rice are your best bet but can still be tasty and healthy. I’ve done some delicious lentils (just soak them a day in advanced.) For more ideas, you can check out this site for hostel recipes! (Or just do a Google search.)
4. Ask about storage, especially if you’re arriving before check-in.
5. Don’t sleep in—take advantage of breakfast when it’s offered! (Especially because you already paid for it.)
6. The staff will usually know English pretty well…impress them with your Spanish and make friends! I am ASTOUNDED by the number of travelers (especially Australians for some reason) who wash up in these hostels without knowing a lick of Spanish. I’m not quite sure how they survive in South America, to be honest. Either way, people like them make the people that work in hostels super grateful for people who do speak Spanish, and they’re more likely to be patient with you if you need to store your stuff a little longer or something like that.
7. Keep your chin up and call it part of the adventure! If you’re afraid of a dirty bathroom rug or slimy kitchen sponge, just suck it up and pay the extra money for a hotel. Your stay in Hostel La Dudosa ( = sketchy) might not be the most luxurious—I mean, come on, it’s a hostel—but it might be one of the most fun if you do it up right.
If you want to see some of the places I stayed during my stint in South America, you can check out my Tripadvisor account . Of course, these are by no means the only places available to you. It all depends on when you go and how many people you’re going with.
So get Googling, and good luck!
11. Road Trip!
12. My Mate for Life
14. Pros and Cons
The Student’s Life
Rafting in San Rafael
Chile Part II
The return to BA
Mar del Plata
Reverse culture shock
Goals – accomplishments and compromises